It’s widely known that LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that can help you broaden your contact list, set up informational interviews, search for job openings, and apply for new positions. But within LinkedIn, there’s a specific tool that’s not well known, and so many people aren’t taking advantage of it. It’s called the alumni tool, and it can help you find alumni from schools you graduate from—and then help you build your network. Here are six tips for using LinkedIn’s alumni tool for networking.
1. Update your profile.
First, you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your information is correct. One way to tackle this step is to print out a copy of your updated resume and make sure it lines up with your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your contact information is correct and that your links to your social media pages go where they’re supposed to. If you’re resume hasn’t been updated in a while, using an online resume builder can be a good place to start to ensure your resume and account are professional looking and in sync.
2. Get started.
Using the alumni tool on LinkedIn is a simple procedure. You need to first hover over “My Network” and then select “Find Alumni” on the list that appears. You’ll find six filters you can use to sort through alumni from your school. These six filters include: major, company, job function, geographic location, connections, and LinkedIn skills. With this information you have the power to build a solid network.
3. Use the “major” function.
if you’re looking for people that graduated with the same major you did or are looking for students in your major that graduated with you, you’ll want to use this filter. This can put you in touch with friends and contemporaries that share your same interests.
4. Use the “company/job” function.
This filter will allow you to see if any of the alumni from your school are working at a company you’re interested in. You can also find out if anyone else has a similar job function that you’re targeting. This information can help you find people that might be able to help you get a job in a specific company or field.
5. Search by geographic location.
The geographic location filter will tell you about nearby alumni that you might actually be able to meet in real life. This is a great way to expand your local network. While you don’t have to meet people in real life, if you can take the time to do it and people are willing, this can be very beneficial (and fun). Invite someone out for coffee or lunch (not dinner) and let them know what you’re looking for in a job or career. Of course, people will remember you better if you actually meet them. And your chances of making a strong connection are much greater.
6. Reach out to your new contacts.
When you have your list of preferred people to contact and invite to your LinkedIn network, you want to be sure to send them each an individual, personalized invite. These invites should be professional sounding and welcoming. If you give people a good reason to link up with you, your network will grow in no time. And of you need help writing your networking letters, here are some great tips.
Jane Hurst is a writer, editor, and avid traveler from San Francisco, Calif. Find her at About.me.